Rosemarie Emanuele

"Math Geek Mom"

Although she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston College, Rosemarie Emanuele is a professor and the chair of the Department of Mathematics at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. She loves to teach math but also pursues research related to the economics of nonprofit organizations and volunteer labor, and has published in both economics and interdisciplinary journals — as well as in the book that inspired this blog. She is the proud mother of a wonderful daughter.

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Most Recent Articles

September 24, 2009
The term “altruism” is used in economics to describe the situation where one person’s well being depends, in part, on the well being of another, perhaps leading to donations of time or money. In contrast, the term “impure altruism” is used, without any sense of judgment on the giver, to describe a situation where the giver improves their own well-being not just from the improved state of the recipient, but also from the act of giving itself.
September 17, 2009
One of the first things I learned upon becoming a mom was that I needed to be much smarter than I am. I needed to become my child’s advocate in many arenas, and some of these were areas that I had no knowledge of. For example, I needed to become, in many ways, my daughter’s primary care physician, looking out for her health as I assembled the information presented by doctors of different specialties. For the job of being my daughter’s advocate, I often found myself relying on sources ranging from books to the internet to my wonderful colleagues.
September 10, 2009
Last week, my first grader came home with thoughts about math (I love it when she does that!) She said that, since one hundred plus ten was “one hundred and ten”, that, therefore, infinity plus ten must be “infinity and ten”. Of course, infinity is not a number that can be added like one hundred, so the analogy did not hold. Indeed, infinity is one of those math concepts that lead one to wonder if they are studying math or, perhaps, instead studying philosophy.
September 3, 2009
Last week, as classes started, I performed an experiment that I always use on the first day of each of my classes in statistics.
August 27, 2009
When I returned from a campus visit for what became my first academic job, highway construction forced us to get to the airport by detouring through the downtown. Along the way, the man who would become my department chair pointed out important sites. Somewhere between another university and a revitalized downtown area was the Cleveland Clinic. He told me that the Cleveland Clinic was a world-class hospital, on par with the Mayo Clinic. I listened politely, but could not imagine that I, a healthy 27 year old, would need to know much about a big hospital.
August 21, 2009
Calculus, which I begin teaching again on Monday, is the world of the infinitesimal. Rather than asking about changes over a decade, year, or even second, we ask about changes over lengths of time and space that are so small they approach lengths of zero. We can then talk about changes that happen in an instant, or even a point.
August 13, 2009
In economics, we draw a graph matching the various prices that a good could be sold at with the quantity of that good that people would be willing to buy at each price and call it a “demand curve.” Sloping down, this demand curve can shift for many different reasons. Some of these reasons include changes in the income of the consumers involved, changes in the prices of substitutes or complementary goods, or changes in popularity of the goods themselves. For example, I suspect that the demand curve for horse-drawn carriages has shifted greatly since the advent of the automobile.
August 6, 2009
I guess we made the “big time” when this blog was criticized by the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. It said that the topic of “work-life” balance was silly, and that the conversations taking place here are better suited to women sharing coffee over a kitchen table. Now that we have gained the attention of the “Diary of the American Dream”, I want to make a small suggestion. I propose that we, collectively, arrive at a better word to describe ourselves besides “blog”.
July 30, 2009
There is a concept in economics called “indifference curves”. These are a graphical picture of combinations of goods that would leave the consumer indifferent between the different combinations. Are two apples and one orange just as good to you as two oranges and one apple? If so, these points can be combined on a graph to form an indifference curve, along with other combinations that also leave the consumer just as happy, or indifferent, among the various outcomes. The result is a graph of lines, similar to those found on a map depicting altitude or weather patterns.
July 23, 2009
A friend from college is spending the year in Rome, on sabbatical with his family, writing two books. Despite the desire to visit them there, to see Rome as no tourist can ever see it, and to introduce my daughter to world travel and the larger world, we did not visit them during the year. This is because the year they chose to spend in Rome was the year that the economy showed difficult times, and we could not, practically speaking, manage to make the trip.

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